Cozy Voice for Catastrophes
The work you are reading deals with some dark, dark things. Distressingly unique methods for killing characters, living manifestations of dark psyches, and things that should traumatize every character in the story for life.
So, naturally, this should be treated with the deathly serious import such subject matter warrants
No, actually. One school has it that if you're going to revolt your reader, you'd better do something to make your story easy to read. So the narrator or viewpoint character will speak of those horrific topics in a calm, sort of folksy way that both engages and detaches the audience. It's also applicable to audio and video. In combination with a Lemony Narrator
, this may lead you to wonder
if said narrator has been rendered insane
by the story he or she is telling.
See also Dissonant Serenity
and Danger Deadpan
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy originally had a cheerful, soothing narrator, played by Peter Jones (succeeded for the revival of the radio series by William Franklyn). The movie had Stephen Fry.
- The film of The Color Purple depicts things like a teenage girl twice pregnant by her father against a backdrop of lush, bright colors and a charming array of Southern accents.
- The Green Mile is the epitome of this. People's faces are melted off more than once, but the tone is always that of an old man with good stories to tell.
- Stephen King novels in general have a very folksy, affable quality to the narration, no matter what nightmarish situation they're narrating.
- Old Man's War is similar, right down to the, well, old man. The aliens they fight each have their own unique way of being horrifying, but the narrator's matter-of-fact tone sees you through.
- This could almost be considered Amélie Nothomb's trademark style. Fear and Trembling is an excellent example.
- Ender’s Game is a borderline case - Ender is not exactly a poster child for Angst? What Angst?, but he's still a child discovering new things, affording the proceedings a kind of wonder.
- Mohinder Suresh from Heroes often spoke the opening narration in a tone that makes the show's techno-babble easier to digest.
- A possible alternative name for this trope is "The David Attenborough Narration". Such a calm soothing voice, easing you through the violently graphic imagery of a seal being snatched from the beach and shredded by a killer whale.
- The narrator of Pushing Daisies was voiced by Jim Dale. Every episode we would hear him describing creatively violent murders in dulcet English tones.
- Invoked in a John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme sketch. An actor is hired to read an emergency broadcast which he believes is part of a movie script. Unbeknownst to him, he's actually recording a real emergency announcement, because the government is about to release a biohazard and needs a recording of a soothing voice telling people not to panic.
- GlaDOS of Portal isn't just a sadistic killer operating system - she's a really, really quotable sadistic killer operating system.
- Vigil in Mass Effect 1. He lays it all out in a relaxed, calm manner.
- Bastion applies this both visually (through a cute, childish art style) and aurally (Logan Cunningham, an actor with no previous major credits, has been noted by multiple reviewers to give very soothing narration even when listing off the names of all the dead people the protagonist finds in the street.)
- Stephen Fry provides the voice over for LittleBigPlanet.
- Paul McGann has a soft, pleasant voice, and has said in an interview that for this reason he's often asked to narrate documentaries on frightening topics.
- Morgan Freeman is the go-to guy for one of these as shown by XKCD.
- The British equivalent to Freeman, Stephen Fry, can also do this, and he in fact did with two very personal documentaries about very frightening things (HIV and bipolar disorder).
- As referenced above, Sir David Attenborough has a calm, soothing voice that make the most heart-rending scenes in a documentary less awful.
- The Little Fears: a YouTube personality. Makes videos wherin she recites Creepypasta stories, 'true' accounts, and her own made up tales in this manner.
- Welcome to Night Vale has the velvety baritone of its narrator, Cecil Palmer, relate the various bizarre and horrifying events that regularly happen around town. Because Cecil is a local and is Conditioned to Accept Horror, he treats the news with disturbingly understated matter-of-factness. And even he is outdone by Kevin, his counterpart in Desert Bluffs, who veers straight into Stepford Smiler territory.